Monday, February 25, 2013

A Winter's Day In The Woods

Mama's happy.  I packed up the kids and got a hit of quiet, woodsy mother nature today and it did a body good.  "Packed up the kids" makes it sound like it was a ton of effort to go for a little adventure.  That is misleading.  It is really as much as hoping in the car and going. There was a mental switch that I had to do shortly after having Burl and again after having Fern about leaving the house.  It doesn't have to be a huge production.  I don't have to make preparations similar to those if I were going on an overnight trip, which I used to think.  I keep the car stocked with diapers and wipes, and the rest I consider luxuries. Change of clothes, sippy cups, a day's worth of food, if!
When we've gotta go,  

Today I had to go.  I've been hankering to head to this park for a while now.  We've been there several times before, and it's always good fun.  Today was the perfect combination of time available-good weather-and go get 'em attitude.  

If it's rained enough, there is a babbling brook just a few steps from the parking lot.  I didn't even get out a stroller or baby backpack for this.  Sixty seconds of walking and we were there.  It's perfect for throwing rocks.  I snapped pictures, taught Fern how to throw, found big rocks for Burl, and soaked it in.  

After a while, I got tired of holding Fern back from getting in the water.  Give it a month or two, and we will be all about splashing, but for now it's just too cold.  I let the kids laugh and run and act silly on the bridge until Fern started to try to jump off, then we were off to our next stop.

I loaded the kids in the car and we drove the loop to our next stop.  Picnic area #3 is picturesque.  It's this little grassy spot with a few little trails leading off.  I don't know why I love it, but it's just gorgeous.  We sat right at the beginning of the trails and the kids did their thing.  Their thing is the same whether they are at home, the church nursery, a playground, or in the woods: They play with what they got. 

Fern started digging at pebbles, rolling in leaves, and picking at bark.  Burl found a wonky branch and started raking leaves. I sat there and got calm.  It was so relaxing.  While we were there, a guy from the newspaper pulled up.  He got two huge cameras, walked over, introduced himself, and asked if he could take some pictures of us.  "It's a slow news time" were the exact words he used.  We made an agreement that he would email me some of the pictures.  We talked a little bit.  He was younger and had never been to this park before.  He asked simple questions, but they got me thinking.  Between "you probably have your hands full and want to get out of the house," "do you come here often," and "do your kids like it here" questions, I realized that he was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing in the woods with a baby and a toddler.

Here's my full length answer: I need it.  I need to play with them when I'm not surrounded by my house and yard and the the upkeep it takes to maintain them.  When I'm in the woods, I just sit and watch and engage.  I don't think about the laundry that I should switch out or the grass that we can't grow or the projects that I would like to do in our home.  I'm just there, sitting on the ground, being quiet and still, and watching my kids.  

Also, I feel so much more excited to see my children play imaginary things and explore new things while we're outside than when we're at home with their toys.  Fern loving and hugging her doll is adorable, Burl sorting and stacking his toys is great, but there's something special about them playing outside.  There are two parts to it.  

First, I think their little senses love it.  If nothing else, feeling the textures of the different elements is great for them.  {Sometimes they play in their food at dinner and I always take that as a sign that they need to touch more than their plastic toys.}  They were busy and dirty and happy.

Second, playing in the woods is simple.  It's a great reminder to me that they don't need all the stuff that I think they need to be happy.  They're happy and flourishing right there in the woods.  

I'm sure there are books and studies and information about how good it is for kids to play outside more than inside, but I don't have any of that science on it.  I just know that it feels refreshing.

 As we packed up and drove away, Burl told me that he wanted to come again.  Fern was bouncing her head back in forth happily.  We saw two deer.  I took those as signs that skipping a few hours of laundry day was a good decision.  We'll be making this a regular thing!

I hope that you all find big and small adventures to go on with friends, family, kids, or solo.  


  1. I love that you take their playing with their food as a sign that they need to touch more than their plastic toys--what a great thing to think!! You are such a great mom. Seriously.

    1. Ha! I love that you picked out that little piece to like. Thank you, once again, for your encouragement!

  2. Your post made me think of this article on the BBC that I read yesterday.
    I'm sure your children will be so thankful for the time that you take to play with them. What great memories!

    1. Yes! I've heard about those people! That's a great article. Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.